By Mike Farrell
“Records are made to be broken” is one of the oldest clichés in sports. That’s certainly the case in thoroughbred purse earnings.
Maximum Security banked a cool $10 million, the largest winner’s share in history, with his victory Saturday in the $20 million Saudi Cup.
He instantly zoomed into sixth place on the all-time list with $11.8 million in the bank.
It wasn’t that long ago that Cigar and Skip Away were the gold standard among money winners. Both Hall of Famers were retired just shy of the seemingly impenetrable $10 million career mark.
Now a horse can earn that much in one race.
The lucrative victory can be viewed as karmic payback for the Kentucky Derby (G1). Racing fans and historians will forever debate the steward’s decision to pin an asterisk on Maximum Security as the first horse disqualified from a Derby victory for interference.
Congratulations are in order to the horse, trainer Jason Servis, jockey Luis Saez and the Coolmore crew who acquired a half-interest in the colt from Gary and Mary West at the end of last season.
It was admittedly odd to see Maximum Security carrying the orange and blue of Coolmore into battle for the first time but it’s a sign of things to come. Maximum Security will stand at Ashford Stud, Coolmore’s breeding operation, at the end of his career.
And the overall record could fall before Maximum Security is done. With the Dubai World Cup (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) still on the horizon this year, Arrogate’s all-time earnings mark of $17.4 million is within reach.
That would be quite the accomplishment for the one-time $16,000 claimer.
It was a tough and expensive loss for jockey Mike Smith on Saudi Cup runner up Midnight Bisou. According to “The Racing Post”, Smith was fined more than $200,000 and suspended nine days for excessive whipping.
Meanwhile closer to home, I loved Ete Indien in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (G2) and shared that opinion in my preview of the race.
No way did I, or anyone else, envision such an overwhelming win. The outside post and the short run to the first turn were child’s play as Ete Indien and jockey Florent Geroux blasted to the lead and poured it on the rest of the way.
The final margin was 8 ½ lengths. Trainer Patrick Biancone has long believed this horse has a bright turf future. But for now, Ete Indien is on the dirt and headed for the Florida Derby (G1) on March 28.
The victory gave Ete Indien 50 qualifying points, enough to secure a Derby berth. Biancone has not yet caught a dose of Derby Fever.
“He will have one more run before the Derby and if he wins next time, we’ll go to the Derby,” Biancone said. “And if he doesn’t win next time, we’ll stay home.”
The other big winner yesterday in the Fountain of Youth was Tiz the Law, even though he never left his stall.
The win by Ete Indien confirmed Tiz the Law’s standing as the best of the East Coast Derby contenders.
Tiz the Law was a decisive three-length winner over Ete Indien when they met on Feb. 1 in the Holy Bull (G3). Both are now on target for a Florida Derby rematch.
The sharpest maneuver award goes to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. who scratched Chance It, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, after drawing post 12. He avoided the Ete Indien onslaught and will look for a softer spot and a better post on Saturday across the state in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
The biggest loser was Dennis’ Moment. Trainer Dale Romans was nervously optimistic heading into the race that the colt would make amends in his first start since the stumble in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
He can no longer be considered a serious Derby player after back-to-back last place finishes.
The other major news of the past weekend was John Velazquez announcing he had dumped Angel Cordero, Jr. as his agent and hired Ron Anderson.
That was a seismic shift. Cordero had been a mentor and agent to Velazquez for some 30 years. Now the Hall of Famers will go their separate ways.
Anderson is one of the most respected agents, having handled Jerry Bailey, Gary Stevens and Chris Antley. He currently represents Joel Rosario and will continue to book his mounts.
It creates a unique West Coast-East Coast dynamic with Anderson now representing a major player on each side of the country.
It is a reflection on how the internet continues to change the racing business. The days of a jockey agent pounding the backstretch from barn to barn on foot, or in a golf cart, with a condition book in hand have given way to an era where trainers, agents and race offices communicate instantaneously by cell phone and text messages.
Juggling two such high profile riders simultaneously will be an interesting test of how well technology and personalities can be blended.